The Cell Saga is arguably the greatest arc in Dragon Ball Z. It features some of the series’ best fights, most emotional story beats, and fan-favorite new characters like Trunks, the Androids, and Hercule. Even for fans who don’t agree that it’s the best arc in the series, it’s hard to argue against it being a comparatively better ending for the series than the Buu Saga was.
It’s long been rumored that the Cell Saga was initially intended to be the ending for Dragon Ball, and it’s easy to see why. In many ways, the Cell Saga ties up a lot of loose ends and wraps up the growth arcs of the main characters in a way that makes the Buu Saga feel more like an additional post-credits scene than the series finale.
Dragon Ball has featured some fantastic animation over its long and storied run.
10 Piccolo Finally Became Whole Again in the Cell Saga
Piccolo’s reunification with Kami signified the logical end to one of anime’s greatest villain redemption arcs. Throughout the series, Piccolo gradually changes from the spawn of the Demon King to a cherished friend and mentor to Gohan.
Piccolo’s gradual evolution throughout Z made his fusion with Kami feel truly organic and deserved. Piccolo had long been a hero who had earned the trust of Earth’s greatest defenders, so it was only natural that he completed his metamorphosis to become Earth’s divine overseer once and for all. That kind of conclusive change for Piccolo is one that should be expected to come at the end of a series.
9 Cell Was A Combination Of Every Powerful Warrior In The Series
The Dragon Ball anime is full of amazing fights. However, sometimes the manga version reigns supreme.
Dragon Ball‘s villains have always been gradually increasing threats in power. With Cell being a combination of all the greatest warriors in the franchise up to that point, he was by definition the most insurmountable threat imaginable.
Cell was created by Dr. Gero by splicing the cells of powerful warriors like Frieza, Piccolo, Vegeta, and even Goku himself, making the ideal warrior capable of using the abilities of each one of his genetic ancestors. In a way, Cell was the embodiment of the ultimate what-if scenario: “what if Goku had to fight all of Dragon Ball‘s most powerful fighters combined?” Cell’s status as the culmination of all the strongest warriors in the series made him feel like Dragon Ball Z‘s true final boss.
8 The Buu Saga Wasn’t As Interesting
Many Dragon Ball fans will swear by the fact that the Buu saga is the weakest arc of DBZ, and it’s understandable why. The Saiyan, Frieza, and Cell Sagas are considered some of the best arcs in anime history, and there are few storylines that can match them.
Looked at on its own merit, Majin Buu and Hercule’s dynamic is humorous and endearing, and the Buu Saga and its lead-up do have some genuinely great moments. Still, the Buu Saga is more of a blend of great action sequences than it is a coherent and emotional narrative like the Cell Saga. Majin Buu is a memorable character that the series is better for having, but he’s also one that the series wouldn’t be much worse without.
7 Krillin Finally Found Love After His Tumultuous Past Relationship
As Goku’s best friend and a staple of the series since its earliest days, Krillin has become one of the most beloved characters in Dragon Ball. That’s what made him finding true love with Android 18 at the end of the Cell Saga the perfect conclusion to his story.
Krillin’s relationship with Maron was a rocky one, to say the least, but he was always a good guy who just wanted his love to be reciprocated. Krillin deserved to settle down and start a happy family as he was shown doing in the Great Saiyaman arc, and Z would have just been better off letting him live happily ever after instead of forcing him to die at the hands of yet another villain during the Buu Saga.
6 The Cell Saga Brought Back The Series’ First Major Villain
Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball is full of exciting twists, turns, and tussles, but some story arcs generate more excitement than others!
Because Dr. Gero created Cell as a means to seek revenge for the defeat of the Red Ribbon Army, Cell became more than just a run-in-the-mill villain. Cell and the Androids were the amalgamation of all Goku’s heroic deeds finally coming back to nip him in the bud in poetic fashion.
It’s rare that a series can work its entire history into one great final villain, but that’s exactly what makes Cell so iconic and influential for shonen anime. Cell’s backstory gave the entire series an emotional climax, as all the fights Goku won throughout his life had come back to haunt him in one epic climactic conflict.
5 Goku Dies A Hero
Goku’s permanent death would have been the perfect way to close out the series in a definitive way. With Gohan being significantly more powerful than Goku at such a young age, and characters like Vegeta and Piccolo having fully proven redeemed as heroes, the end of the Cell Saga was the ideal time for Goku to stay dead once and for all.
The moment of his death was truly that of a hero who protected not only his son but the entire world by sacrificing himself. The image of Gohan defeating Cell with an apparition of Goku behind him was the perfect send-off shot for the world’s greatest hero. Even though Goku would later come back in the Buu Saga to save the world again, his martyrdom during the Cell Games still comes off as his most heroic moment.
4 The Z Fighters Rescue Both The Present And The Future
Future Trunks’ inclusion in the story meant that the Z Fighters effectively saved two timelines at once. Since Future Trunks lives in a time when there’s no Buu and he manages to destroy the Androids and Cell himself in his timeline, the future appears to be definitively saved (up until Dragon Ball Super‘s Goku Black arc of course).
With both the future and present at peace once again, DBZ could have ended with the promise of a more peaceful future thanks to Future Trunks’ influence. However, the rise of Babidi and the resurrection of Buu means that Trunks’ efforts were essentially fruitless as evil still arose to potentially destroy the human race in an even worse way than before.
3 Gohan Finally Becomes The Strongest
Dragon Ball has hundreds of episodes that are full of memorable moments, but there are certain sequences that never fail to get the audience excited!
Gohan was always meant to be the strongest warrior in the series, and the Cell arc finally gave him that honor. After Goku taught his son everything he could, Gohan surpassed his father to become the Earth’s last hope.
Gohan went through numerous hardships and traumatic experiences throughout his youth in order to reach the level of power he did during the Cell Games. For that reason, Gohan’s Potential Unlock during the Buu saga is not even comparable to his Super Saiyan 2 transformation in the Cell Saga. Seeing Gohan become a superhero and slow down on his training during the Great Saiyaman arc was a welcome send-off for Gohan, which makes it all the more unfortunate that he was later made to face — and ultimately lose against — Majin Buu.
2 Vegeta’s Growth Arc Is Completed During The Cell Saga
Vegeta started the series as the most devious villain Goku had ever gone up against. That’s what made Vegeta’s acceptance of his role in helping Gohan defeat Cell so powerful for him as a character.
In that single act, Vegeta not only accepted his powerlessness and swallowed his treasured saiyan pride, but he also embraced his emotional connection to the planet Earth that he had learned to call his home — and the people who live on it. This was the ideal ending for Vegeta as a character, but it was ultimately undermined in the Buu Saga. By allowing himself to be brainwashed by Babidi, Vegeta essentially took two steps backward in his growth as a character from the previous two arcs.
1 The Tournament Arc Is Always Where Dragon Ball Truly Shines
The Cell Games took a concept that Dragon Ball popularized (the tournament arc), and turned it into a true life-or-death fight for survival. Many of Dragon Ball‘s greatest moments were during tournament arcs, so the Cell Saga bringing that back with the Cell Games was a perfect cherry on top for the series.
Along with the return of the Red Ribbon Army as the main villain, the Cell Games was a return to classic Dragon Ball concepts that made it feel like a full-circle moment for Goku. Ending DBZ on a high note with the ultimate tournament arc as its final act would have been perfect for the Dragon Ball series as a whole, but if there’s anything the Buu Saga proved, it’s that there will always be a stronger threat to challenge Goku and his friends.
With the help of the powerful Dragonballs, a team of fighters led by the saiyan warrior Goku defend the planet earth from extraterrestrial enemies.
- Release Date
- September 13, 1996
- Sean Schemmel, Brian Drummond, Christopher Sabat, Scott McNeil
- Anime, Action, Adventure
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